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Simplifying what is required to orchestrate a complex change process is quite a feat. Getting people behind the more-than-stretch goals for which you have made a commitment to the board can be equally challenging.

When we meet resistance, in whatever form it takes, we (humans) tend to speak louder and demand everyone to see it our way. Get on board, ladies and gentleman!

Chip and Dan Heath in Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard share an approach that centers on the concept that:

“In order to change someone’s behavior, you’ve got to change that person’s situation…you’ve got to influence not only their envirnonment but their hearts and minds.”

The authors pick up on  Jonathan Haidt’s concept in The Happiness Hypothesis of our emotional side being an Elephant and our rational side being the Rider holding the reigns to the elephant. The problem in challenging change scenarios is that the Elephant and the Rider often disagree—and the Elephant usually wins.

  • If you reach the Rider and not the Elephant, you will have direction without motivation.
  • If the Rider isn’t sure what direction to go, he tends to lead the Elephant in circles.
  • And the more uncertainty, the more exhausted both become.

Their framework fits right in line with my ideas about remarakable results:

  1. Direct the Rider: What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.
  2. Motivate the Elephant: What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
  3. Shape the Path: What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.

As I read thinking about my client work, I see leaders’ tendency to think everyone “sees” it their way—or should. They believe that their team members will be motivated because the leader is or because the team members have to in order to do their job.

If you are stuck in orchestrating change or a remarkable result, stop and think about the people. What do they care about? How is the current situation different than in the past? And, not just “what’s in it for them.” Rather, question how you can tap into what drives them.

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